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Risk Factors of Skin Cancer in Older Individuals: Population-Based Study From Finland

By: Victoria Kuhr, BA
Posted: Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Laura Huilaja, MD, of Oulu University Hospital, Finland, and colleagues reported that people older than age 70 who have a history of skin cancer had a 2.6-fold increased risk of subsequent skin cancer compared with people without a history of skin cancer. Additionally, male participants appeared to have an approximately twofold greater risk of skin cancer than female participants. These findings were published in BMC Geriatrics.

“Physicians treating older persons are encouraged to perform a skin examination to detect skin cancers and their precursors,” said the study authors. “Previous history of skin cancer—which is easy to elicit from the patient—can act as a clue to the patient being at higher risk of new skin cancers.”

This retrospective cross-sectional study focused on a historic data set from the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 (NFBC1966), an epidemiologic and longitudinal research program, parent study. Dermatologists performed a total-body skin examination (TBSE) on participants to identify skin tumors. The primary objective of the study was to analyze the associations between skin cancer and its risk factors through health register and self-reported data.

The study included 552 participants, 346 female and 206 male, between the ages of 70 and 93. TBSE identified skin cancer and precursors of skin cancer in 25.5% of participants, and they were more common in males than in females (34.5% vs. 20.2%). Participants diagnosed with skin cancer during the TBSE had significantly more cancers in their history compared with participants whose TBSE found no skin cancer (46.2% vs. 22%). Overall, 88 participants were diagnosed with “their first skin cancer ever” during the TBSE and were unaware of their skin malignancy. Specific risk factors for the first occurrence of skin cancer were male sex and outdoor work. The investigators did not discover an association among skin cancer, age, and socioeconomic status, nor an association between Fitzpatrick’s skin type and skin cancer.

Disclosures: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com.


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